Cisco Pushes Unified Data Center Through Channel

Cisco Systems Inc. plans to enlist its partners in pushing its unified data center concept kicked off with the March launch of its Unified Computing System (UCS). The initiative, announced Wednesday at the gearmaker’s Partner Summit, includes new programs, certifications and a new entry-level addition to the UCS product family.

“Channels will be absolutely critical for us to scale and accelerate these new technologies into the marketplace,” said John Growdon, director of go-to-market – data center products for Cisco’s worldwide channels, in a press conference.

Growdon said Cisco already has engaged a large base of partners with expertise in the data center space. He points to 300 partners (and 200 pending) that have completed certification for the Data Center Network Infrastructure (DCNI) specialization in the last 12 months since it has been offered. DCNI is the fastest-growing certification in the history of the company, he added.

Now the company will launch a Unified Data Center Practices program to engage a broader partner base. This program will support companies is delivering Cisco products, which cross traditional silos – networking infrastructure, storage and computing/virtualization.

“To sell these technologies will require that you bring together these siloed organizations,” Growdon said, noting the reason for doing that is to lower to total cost of ownership in the data center.

He said the Unified Data Center Practices program will help partners expand their penetration within customers and to new customers because it will give them a skill set that not every VAR has. He said it will enhance their opportunities to provide professional services, such as assessments, integration, business transformation and managed services.

Cisco is supporting the practice with two new programs and two new certifications. The gearmaker already has specialization programs for the three silo areas – data center networking, storage and computing/virtualization. These include DCNI, Data Center Storage Networking (DCSN) and Authorized Technology Provider (ATP), respectively.

It is adding an Authorized Partner Program (APP) to shortcut the path to selling UCS products. While a partner normally would have to take the 90-hour course to become an ATP, any DCNI specialist can take a 12-hour course under the APP program and become authorized to sell Cisco’s new UCS C Series of rack-mounted servers, which are due out in fourth quarter and are entry-level alternatives to UCS’s original blade form factor.

Cisco also is adding two new certifications: Data Center Architect and Data Center Engineer. These programs will be available beginning in third quarter.

Finally, it is rolling out a Data Center Channel Solutions Program that Growdon said will deliver standard reference designs incorporate products from data center vendors, including EMC, Microsoft, NetApp, Red Hat, and VMware.

Cisco also plans to extend its Value Incentive Program (VIP) program to data centers, including UCS B Series, storage and Wide Area Application Services (WAAS). C-Series will be added at a later date, Growdon said.

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